Most people judge a book by it's cover dont they? I think we do the same thing with photographers. We go to their websites and see what work they produce and that's how we wage if they measure up. But, let me encourage you to look beyond just the images and into the relationship.
Make sure you "click" with your photographer. I would say almost all of the people I work with are a little nervous at first. We categorize this as camera shy. And unless you are Giselle or Tyra, you are most likely in this category (myself hugely included). This is why it's SO important to have a photographer who you can mesh with and can help to bring out the true you. Someone who can make you laugh and is patient in understanding that it may take you awhile to warm up.
You really are paying for the personality of the photographer as well as the production of their work to some degree. It's hard to be yourself if you don't feel 100% comfortable around the person holding a camera a few feet from your face!
I remember, Miss Holly (pictured below) was a little nervous at first, but once we cut up and I told her how gorgeous she is and how she can work it (true statements), she began to let loose:
Or let's look at this shot... this sweet girl was just not so sure about the camera at first. I remember she was more interested in the grass. But as photographers, it's our job to grab their attention! So I was saying "doop doop doop!" and bouncing in a happy voice... (along with her aunt haha) and before you know it she was happy and giving her momma kisses. This also prove you can't have an ego and be a successful children's photographer!
So whether you are looking for some beautiful senior shots, someone to take pictures of your crazy kiddos, or getting married - pick someone who makes you feel at home. Find someone who wants to bring out the beauty of you being YOU.